Burchfied Penney hosts a wintery new exhibit, “Mystic North”

Annaliza Guard, Staff Writer

Charles Burchfield’s portraits of winter and early spring come together in the “Mystic North” exhibit at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

Burchfield, who is known to be inspired by music in his work, drew from the mood of Jean Sibelius’s musical compositions.

The exhibit includes various mediums including pencil on paper, charcoal and his signature watercolors.

Winters in the north are depicted in dreary hues throughout the works displayed, creating a unified sense of cold and cloudiness.

In one piece, “Snow Patterns,” snow blankets industrial buildings and homes. Like most of the pieces, this includes Burchfield’s original description of the scene the work was inspired by. This watercolor is accompanied by, “at noon the sun shines from a cold blue sky; icy roofs glow like rectangular suns; here and there a bit of ice left on trees shines like a star.” This description was embodied through his use of gray hues and line.

Portraits of snow drifts and gray, washed-out color creates a mood of a cold, cloudy environment and is paired with a scribble: “in the shadow all is winter — colorless, mysterious and vague.” This scene is not one unfamiliar to New York during the winter.

The viewer can see his creative process with Burchfield’s original notes. His pieces include scenes inspired from a trip to the canyons of Letchworth, paired with a note as to which part of the Sibelius piece he is capturing. The image is brought to life with sound and imagery.

His north east autumn landscape is inspired by “horn call from Sibelius’s Fifth,” according to his notes. “Study woods in ‘Orion in winter’ for use as ‘Tapiola’” is written alongside a crayon or charcoal drawing.

The only color comes from a portrait of a dewy sunset, called “Spring Sunset in the Woods.” The piece is inspired by “quaint” music, not of Sibelius, as Burchfield noted. Although, Sibelius was inspired by sunsets too.

The exhibit was in collaboration with Finn Fest USA 2015 which was Oct. 9 through Oct. 11 in Buffalo. Finn Fest is an annual celebration of Finnish and Finnish-American culture.

Also inspired by Sibelius, who is a Finnish composer, the festival included concerts and programs that acknowledge his work. This is where the Burchfield Penney became involved.

Students can still view the “Mystic North” exhibit at the Burchfield Penney Art Center through Jan. 31. Admission is free to SUNY Buffalo State students with ID.


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